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[Xmca-l] Re: Analysis of Gender in early xmca discourse
- To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Analysis of Gender in early xmca discourse
- From: Alfredo Jornet Gil <email@example.com>
- Date: Fri, 4 Nov 2016 16:58:52 +0000
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- Thread-topic: [Xmca-l] Re: Analysis of Gender in early xmca discourse
your post just reminds me of one of G. Bateson's arguments concerning logic, and which might be of relevance to this aspect of this thread. It seems that there is some concern in the discussion concerning the status of logic (as more or less defined tool that can be applied differently depending on the objectives, or as some form of reasoning that is in nature (not just objectives) different from others, and the product of Western history.
Bateson made a distinction between (it was David's syllogism that sparked the connection) "Syllogisms in Barbara" and "Syllogisms in Grass". Syllogisms in Barbara are those one can find in classical logic:
Socrates is a man;
Socrates will die.
"The basic structure of this little monster," Bateson writes, "is built upon classification. The predicate 'will die' is attached to Socrates by identifying him as a member of a class whose members share that predicate" (Bateson & Bateson, 1987, p. 26).
In contrasts, Syllogism in Grass are the "'logic' o metaphor", and go like this:
Men are grass.
This syllogisms, Bateson writes, "are the very stuff of which natural history is made."
In Bateson (and I believe this would be in agreement with much of what a Marxist psychology would argue for), there is not one grand, exclusive logic that belongs to the human brain (cognition). He goes on to argue that biological forms have historically evolved in terms of syllogisms in grass. "Biological data make sense–are connected–by syllogisms in grass."
In Bateson, thus, logic is a form of organisation; and a form of organisation not of things, but of processes of growth (and it is here where I think Bateson and Vygotsky make a good match).
I think Bateson's distinction is interesting here because it allows nuancing the discussion on logic and gender. I believe that gendered facts exist and come to affect our lives both in terms of syllogisms of Barbara (formal logic), and in terms of syllogisms of grass (metaphor). However, I think that the former, which entails work of classification, need to be enforced and sustained by external means (e.g., institutions), as (feminist) researchers such as S. L. Star so convincingly showed in their research. They offer a frame for asking: what are the external measures being taken so that the classification system in which men get listed under some privileged categories, is being made effective? Most interesting, how are the two logics connected in developmental processes so that we sometime are able to draw syllogisms of the form:
- women are human,
- men are human,
- women and men are equal.
but still fall so often into perceptions, feelings, behaviours, etc ... that seem to mess all this up? It seems that changing our epistemology at the deeper level takes more than classical logic.
From: email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org> on behalf of David H Kirshner <email@example.com>
Sent: 04 November 2016 16:29
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Analysis of Gender in early xmca discourse
Recognizing that Jacob and others may see it differently, I agree with you that logic is not gendered.
I do disagree, though, with your final statement that "Logic isn't a Western invention, by the way. It's very much part of human cognition."
What I think is sustainable is the position that reasoning is very much a part of human cognition. But one of the results that cognitive scientists have clearly established is that human reasoning, in general, is associative, not logical. Our conceptual structures are associatively linked, meaning that concepts conjure up other, related concepts. Our reasoning is a kind of juggling of these linked concepts.
One of the classical studies that established this perspective concerns Margie the bank teller:
Margie is bright, single, 31 year old, outspoken, and concerned with issues of social justice.
What is more likely
A) Margie is a bank teller, or
B) Margie is a bank teller and Margie is a feminist.
(If you're not familiar with this problem, take a moment to answer it.)
The logical analysis holds that Margie is more likely to be a bank teller than both a bank teller and a feminist because choice A includes the possibility that Margie is a bank teller and a feminist as well as the possibility that Margie is a bank teller and not a feminist, but choice B includes only one of those possibilities.
But the vast majority of subjects tested select choice B, which the cognitive psychologists take as indicating that we are guided by our associations to people like Margie rather than by the logical conditions of the problem.
In my view, logic as a discursive form--a technology of thought--is a Western invention. Whether it is identified as "male" because of historical association or biological predisposition, I don't know, and I should add, I don't care. (Jacob, the science of biologically based sex differences in cognition has not been "debunked." Rather, feminist scholars have rightly pointed out that the data are inconclusive, and that prior assertions of biologically based sex differences in cognition over-interpret the scientific results.) Neither history nor biology is determinative, and logic is too important a part of our cultural legacy to deny any individual or group the opportunity to master it.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Annalisa Aguilar
Sent: Friday, November 4, 2016 12:28 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Vera John-Steiner <email@example.com>
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Analysis of Gender in early xmca discourse
About logic: to Greg M., Actually, I thought it was Jacob who discussed logic in gendered discourse. Unless you brought it up a long time ago in the group he references. I was under the impression that he had attempted to bring it up a few times in the past. Or am I mistaken?
In his reply on timestamped Nov 03, 08:30:41 he stated:
"Not to beat the proverbial dead horse, but several listserv members--including me--have tried to introduce this position re: logic in prior xmca threads. The position has mostly either been ignored or loudly rejected out of hand by more vocal participants on this listserv."
So I was responding to that paragraph.
I am not clear about Jacob's position but my position is that logic is an intellectual tool, just like intuition can be an emotional tool. Insight might be a combination of both logic and intuition. But nothing about logic makes it male, as I see it, no matter how much men might assert that to be the case.
Logic is reasoning in a particular way with the mind, and any human can partake in it if one wants. You can't perform logic with your elbows and knees. Counting has a logic. So does self-preservation.
What one does with logic has to do with one's values. If your values are for a pure race, for example, you can certainly use logic to rationalize activities that purify race however you might want to define it. Does that make logic a tool to create meaning that is essentially determined by power? Or is it just abuse of logic to assert one's power (over others, which is actually being powerless, since one who is truly powerful does not require power over others), which at its basis, is meaningless?
Also, I don't think that Rein was saying gender is fluid. He said it is constructed:
"... in other words, what cultures have "naturalized" as divisions into genders are more often than not constructions erected by a gender group in order to dominate others. Such construction, I would argue, can only be taken down with arguments that follow a logic which itself is not gendered, because if it were, it would be a contestant in the field, not the referee."
I believe if I read him as he wanted to be read, I think he's saying that logic is not gendered, which I agree with. The fact that we can say "a logic" means the application of that logic has a boundary, but it doesn't mean that this logic is different than that logic. It means if I use a hammer on a house, I can also use it to bash in skulls. The tool is the same, the application is different, as are the values motivating its use. The boundaries are the objectives for using the logic, not the logic itself. Of course we can bicker over the forms of mallets, claw hammers, or rocks for hitting things and their differences, but the activity of hammering is the same. The values, motivations, and objectives are different, which offer the boundary, however the activity remains the same despite those boundaries.
Logic isn't a Western invention, by the way. It's very much part of human cognition. Rationalism I suppose could be Western, but I reserve the right to be wrong about that.